Senate Probes Daily Kerosene Subsidy
BEVERLY HILLS, February 20, (THEWILL) - The Senate on Thursday directed its Committee on Finance to commence in-depth investigation into the alleged illegal application of subsidy on kerosene by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) against presidential directives.
The Senate also asked its Committee on Finance to speed up investigation into the alleged unremitted and unaccounted public funds by the NNPC into the Federation Account.
These were the major fall-outs of the motion sponsored by Senator Babajide Omoworare (APC,Osun) titled "Urgent Need to stop N700 million - A Day Illegal Kerosene Subsidy.
" Senator Omowarare noted that through admissions by the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the Ministry of Finance as well as verified findings emerging from the on-going finance committee investigation, "The current Kerosene Subsidy scheme is manifestly illegal, unconstitutional and a brazen breach of the Appropriation Acts passed by the National Assembly as there have been expenditure of public funds in contravention of sections 80 and 162(1) of the 1999 constitution and attendant Appropriation Acts.
" He said "Less than 10 per cent of petroleum products outlets across the country sells kerosene at the alleged subsidised rate of N50 per litre while the general price is not less than N150 per litre.
" He further explained that the Kerosene Subsidy has woefully failed to ameliorate the living conditions of the suffering poor masses as the intended target beneficiaries but has rather been transformed into an engine fraud and conduit for enriching the ever manipulative super rich oil cabal and its collaborators in the corridors of power According to the Senator, "Since it has been incontrovertibly established that the Kerosene Subsidy scheme runs outside the national budget, it thereby impacts dangerously on the fiscal stability of our collective economic well-being and our future as a sovereign constitutional democratic entity.
" Deputy Senate Leader Abdul Ningi stated that the issue is not about party or the Federal Government, but about Nigerians, adding that the issue has opened the eyes of Nigerians and urged his colleagues to rise up and stop this illegality.
"It is illegal, unconstitutional and insensitive for any person to spend funds without appropriation from the National Assembly.
"NNPC spends money without appropriation, that's the crux of the matter, it's the illegality being carried out by the NNPC," he said.
Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi in his submissions stated that Kerosene Subsidy meant for Nigerians is not getting to Nigerians, chiding the NNPC and likened the corporation to a military dictatorship.
"It is only the military that suspends the constitution.
Democracy and dictatorship cannot co-exist, this regular abuse of the constitution is coming too often.
We are witnessing civil dictatorship, impunity, aberration of our Constitution, it must not be on record that the Senate is watching when Nigeria is bleeding," he said.
Senate Leader Victor Ndoma - Egba in his contribution said democracy is not complete without the rule of law and indicted the National Assembly for failing in their powers of oversight functions and called on his colleagues to take responsibility for the impunity and illegality in the system and a call of duty to rise up to their constitutional duties.
He further explained that the issue of subsidy will address the issue of corruption since the subsidy money is almost equal to the national budget and he called on the Senate to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) as it will address the issue of subsidy once and for all.
Minority Leader George Akume accused the NNPC of being in the news for the wrong reasons and queried it for taking over the functions of the National Assembly with impunity.
He also called for the deductions to stop while investigation is going on.
EMMA UCHE, ABUJA